It is often my privilege to sit with someone who needs help. That might be at their bedside because they are dying. It could be in the aged care facility that is now their ‘home’. It could be across the table as they share what burdens them so deeply. The anxiety, sometimes the fear, is clear and present. The causes are wide and varied. Help is what they need.
And how useless I am!
Oh, how I would love to heal the cancer or give back the sight or remove the pain or restore their ability to hear. How I would love to have the answers to the relationship burdens or fix the breakdowns or restore their dreams. Yet that is not within my ability nor is it in accord with my skill-set! I am not the ultimate helper that I or they need.
And so, I go to Psalm 121.
A song of ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
I lift my eyes to the Lord because I know that my help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. There is something very comforting about knowing that help is there and that it can rise above my circumstance, my issue, my world – in fact it is a help that can address whatever the issue is even if that matter was something that affected the whole universe – because it comes from the one who is the Maker of the universe.
I love that the composer of this Psalm speaks as one who knows where to find help and that he shares that so that others might also know just how amazing that ultimate helper really is!
He is there for every step (he will not let your foot slip), he watches every moment (he will not slumber nor sleep), he protects at all times (the sun will not harm you by day nor the moon by night), and he keeps you from all harm (as he watches over your comings and going both now and forevermore).
The Psalmist asks the question ‘Where does my help come from?’ and six times he gives the answer – from the ‘keeper’. It is the Lord who ‘watches’ (the Hebrew translation here is ‘to keep’) and it is the Lord who keeps the one who needs the help.
In first world Australia (where I live), it is very easy to forget how wonderful it is to have a helper who is above all. Our pursuits are often individual, our desires are private, our achievements are personal, and our ambition is often central. Yet when trouble, sickness, anxiety or even death arrives, those individualistic agendas seem to work against us when (finally) we cry out and seek comfort and support and hope from someone outside of ourselves.
Jesus says ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.’ (Matt 11:28-29).
In Jesus our Lord, there is help that trouble, sickness, anxiety or even death cannot take away – and in him we find rest of our souls, both now and forevermore.
I am so glad that Jesus has both the ability and the desire to be the ultimate helper.